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Graduation gift time

Posted by John Reed on

June used to be the graduation month. For reasons unknown to me, May is the new June when it comes to college graduation—even at my hypertraditional alma mater which has 215 years of tradition unbroken by progress. The big deal culmination of your four years at West Point used to be called June Week. Now I guess it’s May week.

Graduation time has a new meaning at my house. It never occurred to me when I wrote the book, but we noticed that sales of my book Succeeding increased at this time of year.

Succeeding 3rd edition bookMy readers are right. This is a super book for a new graduate. I wish I had such a book when I graduated from high school let alone college, but no such book existed. And no other such book exists now. Succeeding is more real world than any success book I know of and it explicitly addresses common you graduate mistakes in thinking.

Formal education is not enough about the real world

For example, high school and college kids are taught their education is preparing them for adult life. Not much. And they tend to assume that life is organized like their student notebooks—by subject: English, math, physics, history, and so on—what they majored in.

In fact, what you majored in during college matters little to the actual lives of most college grads in retrospect. The most important thing in your career is the structure of your job: self-employment, big organization, for-profit, non-profit, government employment, charity employment, compensation structure like salary versus commissions versus head of a profit center. These, not your major, determine your career happiness.

Know thyself and match thyself to the right career

The main lesson is you need to to know who you are in great detail: both your strengths and your weaknesses. Young people have difficulty even admitting the HAVE weaknesses let alone identifying all of them. We all have weaknesses, and to succeed, you must avoid situations where your weaknesses hurt you.

The goal is a great match not a great job

The key is the MATCH between you and your career, not getting a “good” job or a prestigious job or impressing your peers with who hired you. The great trick is matching your unique combination of strengths and weaknesses to the perfect career situation. I rarely got along with bosses. So I am self-employed. That has made all the difference.

And the other big match is even more important. That is your spouse choice, a long chapter in the book.

Everything else falls into place

If you get your spouse choice and career choice right, just about everything else falls into place. My wife and I have been together exclusively for 44 years. I went about selecting a spouse more systematically than anyone I ever heard of.

High school and college tell you your future will be determined by your major. Not so. It will be determined by #! your spouse choice and #2 your career choice—mainly the structure of your career, not its subject matter.

Congratulations to your graduate.

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